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Giraffe Women
by Marsha Mathews

Because their moms
and their mom’s moms
and their moms centuries before them
wore heavy gold bands on their necks,
the girls of the Padang hill tribe wear them, too. Though

they bruise the flesh and push
their spines till their shoulders slope.
Once on, at five years old, they’re on for life,
no reprieve, even at night. Though

Myanmar outlawed neck-banding,
in 1990, women fled
and settled in a Thai forest
where tourists now pay big bucks to snap
photos of their lovely
long necks.

“They’re ignorant,
poor things,” the American says, unable to cry
because the eyelash growth hormone
applied that morning
has robbed her dry.

First published in Wild Goose Poetry Review


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